Sunday, 14 October 2012

Are you too scared to order wine in a restaurant?

According to the French Wines with Style Report it appears we British are a bunch of scaredy-cats when it comes to ordering wine in a restaurant, with just 12.4% of us being confident of selecting the right wine when ordering in a restaurant, and over a quarter (25.8%) passing the buck to our mates rather than risk making a faux pas.

Surprisingly however, although we are a nation of ditherers at the wine list, we also don’t take advantage of the help to hand, with only 20.8% saying that we would ask the advice of the waiter, the rest presumably being prepared to close their eyes and point to any random beverage on the wine list!

France is the most popular country of choice for Brits when choosing wines in a restaurant, with nearly one quarter of Brits opting for their near-neighbour wine-producers (24.1%) when perusing the wine list. Australia (18.6%) and Italy (13.4%) take the second and third place podiums.

Gerard Basset OBE, arguably one of the greatest wine professionals of his generation and reigning World Champion Sommelier, comments:

“People can often be overwhelmed when looking at a wine list. It is important not to feel intimidated. When you are eating out, the experience is all about your enjoyment. If you know about wines, then great; but if you are confused or uncertain about which wine to choose, then take advantage of the help to hand. The waiter or sommelier is there to help.”

Basset also underlines some handy tips to remember when choosing wines:

• If you taste a wine try to define it by style: light-, medium-, full-bodied or aromatic:
o Generally delicate, light foods are better with light or medium wines; heavy dishes with heavier wines; and aromatic wines with spicy foods
• Use the tasting notes on the wine list to guide you
• Wait until everyone has ordered their meals before choosing the wine – that will help you decide on a match or matches
• Set a price bracket for the wine you select and stick to it – there will be fewer choices to make
• Don’t forget to check out the wines by the glass offer – often people choose very different dishes around a table – it might be better to order individual wines for each dish

And if you are ordering French then simplify: try to remember the approximate guidelines for the French regions which break down into the following style groups:

• Light styles: Loire, Beaujolais, Burgundy
• Medium styles: Rhone, Bordeaux
• Full bodied styles: Languedoc-Roussillon, South West
• Light styles (fresh and crisp): Loire; Bordeaux, Chablis
• Medium styles (smooth): Languedoc-Roussillon, South West, the rest of Burgundy
• Aromatic styles: Alsace

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Aunt Bessie’s launches five hot new desserts!

Description: cid:image006.jpg@01CD9FE8.584442B0Everyone should have an Aunt Bessie! Someone in the family who can cook perfect hot deserts (ideal to cheer us up on a winter's day! Well, everyone does have an Aunt Bessie!

Aunt Bessie’s is launching five delicious new desserts this autumn, including three juicy fruit crumbles, a tangy lemon sponge and a gooey chocolate pudding.

Whether you’re looking for a quick and tasty family dessert, or fancy an indulgent sweet for two, Aunt Bessie’s has created five new desserts to suit every occasion and taste. All are -as you'd expect, from Aunt Bessie!- free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives, and can be popped in the oven and served to perfection within a matter of minutes – ideal for busy couples and mums on the go.

Aunt Bessie’s new crumbles come in two sizes: a Perfect for Two size – smaller desserts that are ideal for couples; or a family size – designed to fill up the whole family. For dining in pairs choose from an Apple Crumble made from juicy Bramley apples, or a Rhubarb Crumble made with chunky rhubarb pieces – both topped with an oaty crumble topping and ready to serve after forty minutes in the oven.

For families getting together this autumn, Aunt Bessie’s family-size Rhubarb and Custard Crumble provides plenty of servings and will have the whole family coming back for seconds. The oven baked crumble features tasty rhubarb pieces with dairy custard and is topped with a crunchy, oaty topping.

Aunt Bessie’s has added a new Tangy Lemon Sponge Pudding to its dessert range that the whole family will enjoy. This zesty lemon flavour sponge with lashings of lemon sauce can be sliced into individual portions to cater for everyone’s appetite! Served hot, the pudding can be oven baked or microwaved and is ready to serve in 5½ minutes.

Last but not least, Aunt Bessie’s has created an indulgent Gooey Chocolate Sponge Pudding – the perfect treat to complement dinner, any night of the week. Combining deliciously moist sponge with an irresistible chocolate sauce, this pudding will have families and couples coming back for more time and time again.

To its existing range, Aunt Bessie’s has also increased the size of its Sticky Toffee Sponge, which is now 10% bigger and even tastier.

Aunt Bessie’s Perfect for Two Apple Crumble is available in Asda, Morrison’s, Tesco, Waitrose and Co-op (from £1-£1.29), with Perfect for Two Rhubarb Crumble (£1) available in Morrison’s and Waitrose. Aunt Bessie’s Family Size Rhubarb and Custard Crumble (£1.79) is available in Iceland and Waitrose, and Tangy Lemon Sponge Pudding and Gooey Chocolate Sponge Pudding are both available in Iceland (£1.50).

For those looking for a helping hand or to serve up something different at meal times, visit the Aunt Bessie’s Facebook page, follow @AuntBessie’s on Twitter or go to for plenty of hints, tips and recipes.

Trick or Treacle with Lyle's

This Halloween you can show off your spooky kitchen skills with Lyle’s Limited Edition ‘Trick Or Treacle’ – the perfect ingredient to create ghoulish delights family and friends will love.

The vamped up version of kitchen staple Lyle’s Black Treacle features three collectable pumpkin designs which will bring even more theatre to the baking experience and inspire you to produce truly spooky snacks.

They've created fiendish snacks using the product including Popcorn Toffee Apples and Witches' Ribs with Vampire Toast!

Lyle’s Trick or Treacle will be sold from early October in Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Asda and Waitrose stores nationwide, with prices starting from 88p per tin (454g) with additional great value offers available at individual retailers.